Almost halfway through the NBA season and it looks like the New York Knicks are getting ready for another last-place finish in the division. Through 49 games played this season, the Knicks are 10-39. More importantly, they traded their franchise player away because there wasn’t a mutual vision on the team’s direction. With no sign of things getting better anytime soon, the Knicks are poised to get a top three pick in this year’s draft. Here we will analyze what’s happened and the road ahead for the New York Knicks.
New York Knicks Mid-Season Report
The Knicks won their first game of the season against the Atlanta Hawks. After that, they went on to lose the next five games. They have only had one winning streak the whole season which was three games. The rest of the season has been losing and losing in bunches. They’re currently on an 11 game losing streak and that could go on for a while after their blockbuster trade. The only thing these Knicks have been consistent with this season is losing and dysfunction. A lot of fans questions how Enes Kanter‘s situation is being handled, even more, wonder about how they dealt with Kristaps Porzingis‘ situation. This next year will be vital for sustaining a winning culture and mindset.
Kevin Knox – The Knicks prized rookie has had his share of ups and downs so far this season. He’s currently averaging 12.2 points per game and shooting 37 percent from the field. His free throw percentage has been very low at 69 percent. Knox had his best month as an NBA player in December which earned him rookie of the month. He averaged 17.1 points per game and six rebounds per game. He’s still 19 and perfect by no means. He has potential and is producing better numbers than most Knicks rookies in recent years.
Mitchell Robinson looks to be a key piece to what the Knicks are trying to do. The rookie center has only played 34 games, however, he’s been able to average just under two blocks per game. He also broke the Knicks rookie record for blocks in a game with nine. Robinson has shown his tenacious defense, although his rebound numbers leave much to be desired for. He’s only averaging 3.9 rebounds per game and has only grabbed double-digit rebounds once. That was ten back at the beginning of November. Robinson has a high ceiling but he needs to work on getting out of foul trouble and producing consistent numbers.
Emmanuel Mudiay has been one of the most improved players in the NBA over the past half a season. After seeming like a bust in the draft, the Knicks have taken him in. Coach Fizdale has helped instill confidence back within him and he seems like can be one of the leagues best point guards when he’s at the top of his game. Mudiay has averaged 14.7 points this season which is a career high. He also scored a career-best 34 points this year with the Knicks. The most impressive stat is how he’s been able to improve his shooting from 37 percent last year to 45 percent this year. Mudiay’s newfound confidence has really elevated his game.
Coming to the team as an undrafted pick, little was known about Allonzo Trier. He had success in college but it’s always unknown how that will translate to the NBA. Trier had an immediate impact on the team. Averaging 11.2 points in the first month and a half of the season. This also included four 20 point games and 12 games where he scored double digits. Originally signed to a two-year contract, this high-level play earned him a two year seven million dollar contract.
Kristaps Porzingis To Dallas
Kristaps Porzingis met with Knicks management to discuss his future with the organization. It’s reported that the meeting gave the Knicks the impression Porzingis wanted to be traded and not even 24 hours later from the news breaking, a deal was conceived to send Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks. The deal sent Porzingis, along with Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee, and Trey Burke to Dallas. In return, the Knicks receive Dennis Smith Jr. , Wesley Matthews, DeAndre Jordan, and two future first round picks.
This deal frees a ton of cap space for the Knicks, it’s assumed they will use this deal to try and obtain two superstar free agents this offseason. The only problem is, will the Knicks be able to attract a superstar to come to New York? It will be hard considering past organizational dysfunction. MSG is a court revered by almost every player, it’s hard not to be allured by the number of sponsorships a star player could obtain in NYC.
The Knicks have a young developing core of talent even without Porzingis. However, if they’re unable to attract a superstar player like a Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving, many will be scratching their heads at what this team will do to sustain a winning culture long term. It will be six years since the Knicks last entered the playoffs. Next season will be vital to show players and the fans that this team can develop a winning mentality.
Enes Kanter Gone?
When the New York Knicks traded for Enes Kanter two years ago, he became an instant fan favorite. Kanter embraced the New York lifestyle and his high energy play led them to resign him last offseason. After new coach David Fizdale was hired, it was clear that changes would be made to fit the type of energy and players he wanted on the floor. It was decided after December that the Knicks would be focusing on developing their youth. Kanter is averaging 14.4 points per game and 10.8 rebounds per game. He even grabbed a career-high 26 rebounds earlier this season. It’s certainly not for his offensive play, Kanter’s defense leaves much to be desired. That seems to be the main reason for his long stay on the bench.
Eyes Ahead on Tanking?
It’s no secret that the term “tanking” is a hot topic among bad NBA teams. The Philadelphia 76ers seems to be the best example of this phrase. Using top picks to rebuild their franchise. The Knicks seem to wanna do the same thing. With no hope of making the playoffs this season, it’s not out of the realm of possibility to try and acquire a top prospect like Zion Williamson. Williamson is averaging 22 points per game in college and almost averaging a double-double. On top of that, he’s shooting 68 percent from the field.
Leading to Next Season
Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving joining the Knicks is certainly intriguing. However, this team should do everything in their power to lose the rest of the season to acquire a top draft pick. If the Knicks can score in the draft next season, along with Kevin Knox, Allonzo Trier, and Mitchell Robinson. They can develop an interesting young core of players to surround these max contract players they want. One of the main reasons this team is so bad is because they are extremely young and have a knack for mental mistakes on the floor. If they were to acquire a superstar like Durant and acquire some veterans, players of that caliber could do wonders to transform that lineup.
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